101 Ways to Make Much of Yourself

Not that you should.

When we talk about the reorientation of attitude and behavior that Christ advocates with the coming of his kingdom (Mark 10:32-45), it’s easy to float on the surface of the waters instead of diving deep into the heart problem that is in view.

In this episode, Jesus has announced — in graphic detail — just exactly what he was going to do for his people. Two of those people — James and John — take the opportunity to ask for favors. Later in the exchange Jesus explains that his attitude, which led to his giving himself as a ransom, should govern theirs, as well.

When we attempt to apply this to our own attitude and behavior, we meet the same resistance in ourselves that Jesus likely faced with his immediate followers. Jesus was — through his crucifixion and ransom — making much of the people he was (and is) saving. He has already made much of us, and it is ours now to make much of others.

Yet their response to being told that Jesus himself was making much of them was to ask to made more of.

A shallow view of this teaching is simply to exhort ourselves to “think of others,” and as proof that we are doing so we think of helping an old lady across the street, giving a ride to a stranger, putting a dollar in the Salvation Army kettle. Those things are certainly aspects of what Jesus taught, but not entirely.

The essential problem is that we do these things and want to be recognized. We want to be thanked. We want to be approved. If the old lady doesn’t pinch our cheek and tell us what great people we are, we feel wronged and vow henceforth to steer clear of street crossings and nursing homes.

This is the attitude that Jesus confronted.

When your husband does NOT whisper sweet nothings in your ear, when your wife FORGETS to make your lunch, when your children DON’T heap accolades on you, when your friends make ANOTHER the center of attention at the party, when your church family FAILS to recognize your invaluable contribution, you are — like James and John — asking to be made more of despite the sacrifices already being made.

And note that the problem is not that we get our feelings hurt or grow angry when we are not made much of, but that we even notice that we are not made much of in the first place.

If you are making much of your husband, you don’t notice that he doesn’t write you poetry. If you are making much of your wife, you don’t notice that she put your razor in the wrong drawer. When you are making much of your children, you don’t care that they aren’t always praising your great parenting. When you make much of other church members, you don’t notice that they didn’t invite you to a party, ask you to teach a class, or comment on your lovely dress or new truck.

It is much easier to put others first when the others are further away from us — like the old lady, the stranger, the Salvation Army. It is much more difficult when those others are the ones closest to us.

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